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HSchirmer
Ok, so I just looked over the recent posts about a Venus-blimp-lifting-body proposal. It occured to me that Venus might be a good topic for wild ideas -

The surface temperatures and pressures on Venus are brutal, it is more like an ocean than an atmosphere. So, what if we treat exploration of Venus more like bathymetry, with a bundle of instruments on a tether. Drop it down, get the data, pull it back up before it melts.

So, here's one. I just read about New York skyscrapers saving power by making ice at night to store cooling power. Occurred to me that something similar might work well on a Venus blimp/flying wing. Solar powered refrigeration units create dry ice. Vent the blimp, drift down to the surface, get your measurements while CO2 evaporation cools the probe. Have the CO2 fill a couple of high temp weather balloons to lift you back up.
ZLD
I'd be highly interested to see this seriously explored but I would expect the miniaturization, low power requirements and low mass requirements would prevent this type of mission at this time. However, with enough money, anything is possible in a short time.
ngunn
I like the idea of using a phase change to drive raising and lowering through the Venusian atmosphere. Water would be another possible material for this purpose. Perhaps we are in for a new age of steam . . I think we can leave constraints like cost and mass at the door and just think about ideas, as long as they don't require fantasy science. The best ways of exploring Venus will be unique to that world. If the idea's good enough it will be paid for, and hefted. It's time for Venus!
HSchirmer
Ok, following up on earlier idea about a Venus probe, a sort of stratospheric diving bell.

If you happen to be 50 kilometers above Venus, it appears to be rather comfortable.
Standard earth pressure, standard earth temperatures, a bit of sulfuric acid rain, but tolerable.

Recent suggestion include a solar powered flying-wing-blimp,

and brain-ship loitering in the cool air, controlling a dumb but heat tolerant rover by radio...

I figure its' about time to think about what other ideas might work?

Lets consider "off the shelf" technology- specifically military cluster bomb tech. We now have cluster bomblets that use rotating laser and infrared scanners to survey the battlefield, identify targets, prioritize targets, and then navigate there.

I would suggest a similar layout, but to deliver science, not semtex.

vjkane
There's a blog post with additional information on the Discovery finalists. You can follow links for more detail for several of the proposals.
Paolo
QUOTE (vjkane @ Oct 3 2015, 06:04 PM) *
They may need a transfer orbit that provides a specific set of solar illumination and visibility from Earth tracking stations over the entry point.


You may be right. We will probably know more as more info on the mission is released.
BTW, I remember that Magellan too took 15 months and one and half orbit around the Sun to arrive at Venus. In that case, however, the orbit design was due to NASA opting not to launch two back-to-back Shuttle+IUS missions (Magellan and Galileo) on the same Venus launch window.
JRehling
It's curious that the landing sites already visited and photographed (Veneras 9, 10, 13, and 14) were in each case close to tessera or highland units, which seems very unlikely given how much of the planet is wide-open flat planitia. They are also in a very narrow band of longitudes due to the combination of the unexplained synchrony between Venus' revolution and the Earth-Venus synodic periods; the re-use of minimum-energy trajectories in every case; and, the desire to have a day-lit landing site. The aforementioned Veneras as well as the Pioneer Day and Large probes all landed within about 30° of longitude. If one of those variables changes (namely, length of cruise), then a totally different band of longitudes will be selected, potentially a wider one if Venus is gibbous rather than crescent at arrival.

Tesserae are pretty widely distributed. Most 60° bands of longitude would give you 1 or more tesserae landing sites to choose from.
HSchirmer
QUOTE (ngunn @ Oct 3 2015, 09:28 PM) *
I like the idea of using a phase change to drive raising and lowering through the Venusian atmosphere.


Well, it might only be necessary for raising.
Just occurred to me, after considering the spinning cluster bombs, that probes shaped like maple spinners could make a controlled descent.

If the probes had a camera pointed off-axis, you could naturally build up a spiral image, getting higher and higher resolution as you descend.

Seems that Venus has enough atmospheric diffraction that solar panels on the top and bottom of a wing can provide almost equal power.
So, perhaps a bunch of cube-sats tucked into a maple spinner enclosure, floating at 50km and using solar power to replenish a dry-ice cooling system, then fluttering down to the surface, use CO2 gas to inflate and lift back to 50 km, start all over again.

The other idea, that literally floated in, is to copy orb-spiders. When spiders hatch, they spin a thread, catch a breeze and fly away.
Even heavier adult spiders fly this way although they actually create a 2d "sail" rather than a 1d string.

So, anybody have ballpark energy requirements for probes floating in Venus's CO2 atmosphere, making dry ice to cool a lander, or fabricating polycarbonate sails?
JRehling
Great writeup, Van, as always!
xflare
Well, the only hope for a Venus mission in the next decades rests with the Venus in situ Explorer now
vjkane
I'm listening to Jim Green's program update at SBAG. He has now said several times that the asteroid missions were selected because they were "most technically ready" and "best fit into a cost capped program".

If you look at Lucy and Psyche, the spacecraft are straightforward, the instruments are all near copies of existing instruments, and the data return rates are likely pretty modest. The latter is one of the key drivers of spacecraft cost.

DAVINCI had the challenge of having a carrier probe (simple in itself, but another element), a high pressure vessel, and expensive composition instruments that had to be modified to work with high pressure, high temperature gasses.

VERITAS was using a modification of radar systems used at Earth, but I don't know if any modifications were required. The biggest challenge, I suspect, was the data return rate which would have driven the cost and complexity of the entire spacecraft system. (Ralph Lorenz published a great paper on how data rate is the driver of planetary mission costs.)

Following the cost overruns of the last decade following the selection of more ambitious missions, NASA's managers appear to have become more conservative. While surprises happen (InSight, for example), in general this has worked.
vjkane
QUOTE (HSchirmer @ Oct 5 2015, 08:52 AM) *
Just occurred to me, after considering the spinning cluster bombs, that probes shaped like maple spinners could make a controlled descent.

If the probes had a camera pointed off-axis, you could naturally build up a spiral image, getting higher and higher resolution as you descend.

The Huygens probe used spin to build up images. I can't remember if the spin was created by the parachute design or vanes on the probe.
vjkane
QUOTE (xflare @ Jan 11 2017, 12:11 AM) *
Well, the only hope for a Venus mission in the next decades rests with the Venus in situ Explorer now

The European community has united behind the EnVision Venus mapping mission for the M5 (fifth medium) class mission. It is similar to VERITAS with the biggest difference being the addition for EnVision of a subsurface radar instrument. We will know if it made the list of finalists mid year this year. Launch target is the very late 2020s.

There's also a joint Russia-US Venera-D mission in early discussion that would include an orbiter (I think without a radar unit) and an atmospheric probe/lander. However, the Russian space program is strapped for cash and has an ambitious lunar program in the queue ahead of any Venus mission.

There's also been vague (in the public press) talk about other space agencies such as China doing some kind of Venus mission.
rlorenz
QUOTE (HSchirmer @ Oct 5 2015, 12:52 PM) *
Just occurred to me, after considering the spinning cluster bombs, that probes shaped like maple spinners could make a controlled descent.


Such winged seeds are called 'samaras', and have been proposed for planetary atmospheric sensing, but typically would give you higher angular rates than you would want for imaging. (They are discussed at some length, as well as the spin vanes on Huygens, spinning parachutes, rifled bullets etc in my book "Spinning Flight : Dynamics of Frisbees, Samaras, Boomerangs and Skipping Stones"

Achieving slow descent on Venus is not usually a problem with conventional vehicles, however, since the atmosphere is so dense.

Small vehicles (like the 'cubesat') do not work well in the deep Venus atmosphere as they would warm up very quickly - active cooling doesnt scale down efficiently.


JRehling
Latest Venus mission news:

There was a selection of candidates for the next New Frontiers mission, and for the many-th Discovery/NF selection opportunity, Venus was not selected.

However, a Venusian silver lining: The VICI mission program led by Lori Glaze was one of two non-finalists to receive funding for future mission development.

Among the many Venus proposals in recent years, VICI is distinguished by its plan to send two landers to two different areas of tessera terrain. This is likely the oldest terrain on Venus, and includes the possibility of landforms that were created before Venus had its current climate, dangling the possibility of evidence of a cooler, perhaps even wet, past.

For now, Venus isn't at the front of the queue for New Frontiers missions, but that's one piece of encouraging news.

If VICI or another comparable mission flies in the next few NF missions, it could become the first designated U.S. surface science lander on Venus, only sixty years after the first Soviet lander arrived!
hendric
Interesting article about future missions and capabilities.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/what-wi...go-venus?tgt=nr
vjkane
The EnVision Venus mapping mission was just selected as a finalist for ESA's M5 call (flight in late 2020s or early 2030s?)

Press Release

Webpage
JRehling
Venus exploration is at an interesting crossroads, because it now has a hand in three different competitions, and could win big if it is selected in two of those, or be neglected yet again if it is selected in zero.

EnVision plus VICI or any of the Discovery options with a lander, for example, would do a great job of revolutionizing the state of Venus science, undoubtedly leading to quite different possibilities for any subsequent mission to advance things further. In the best case, we could be at that status in the mid 2030s. In the worst case, we could reach the 100th anniversary of Mariner 2 with the last U.S. mission to Venus being Magellan and the last lander being Venera 14.
vjkane
QUOTE (JRehling @ May 27 2018, 10:37 AM) *
Venus exploration is at an interesting crossroads, because it now has a hand in three different competitions, and could win big if it is selected in two of those, or be neglected yet again if it is selected in zero.

Right now, Venus is in just one competition I'm aware of: EnVision in ESA's M5 competition (launch target appears to be early 2030s). I suspect that there will be proposals in the next Discovery competition, beginning next year if I recall with flight in mid-2020s.
JRehling
That's right, and more precisely, that is the only competition in which a Venus mission is alive for this cycle. I was referring to the ongoing presence of Venus missions in the Discovery and New Frontiers competitions which seems likely to continue until the alternatives are exhausted. The Venus concept VICI also has technology development funding (for the laser spectrometer, such as currently working on Mars) in hand from New Frontiers, which isn't a mission, but is a small start towards one. I'm not sure if that technology development could be used to strengthen the DAVINCI concept, like VICI led by PI Lori Glaze, in upcoming Discovery competitions. DAVINCI was more of a descent atmospheric probe with some surface imaging and a laser spectrometer whose goals only mention the atmosphere, not the surface, although the similarity to the Mars Curiosity instrument is mentioned. I'm curious if the atmosphere-only limitation on DAVINCI's laser spectrometer was due to expectations that it would fail before reaching the surface. If so, the technology development funding for a surface laser spectrometer on VICI could make DAVINCI a significantly more capable mission than in the last competition. One could imagine a very busy surface science mission of an hour or two while it composition-zapped nearby rocks.

It seems like Venus could win the second, third, or fourth -next New Frontiers mission competition (after Dragonfly or CAESAR), and/or the next Discovery mission competition (after the two asteroid missions fly). Nothing is guaranteed, but the competition would seem to be getting thinner every time Venus loses.
vjkane
QUOTE (JRehling @ Jun 3 2018, 10:01 AM) *
That's right, and more precisely, that is the only competition in which a Venus mission is alive for this cycle. I was referring to the ongoing presence of Venus missions in the Discovery and New Frontiers competitions which seems likely to continue until the alternatives are exhausted. The Venus concept VICI also has technology development funding (for the laser spectrometer, such as currently working on Mars) in hand from New Frontiers, which isn't a mission, but is a small start towards one. I'm not sure if that technology development could be used to strengthen the DAVINCI concept, like VICI led by PI Lori Glaze, in upcoming Discovery competitions. DAVINCI was more of a descent atmospheric probe with some surface imaging and a laser spectrometer whose goals only mention the atmosphere, not the surface, although the similarity to the Mars Curiosity instrument is mentioned. I'm curious if the atmosphere-only limitation on DAVINCI's laser spectrometer was due to expectations that it would fail before reaching the surface. If so, the technology development funding for a surface laser spectrometer on VICI could make DAVINCI a significantly more capable mission than in the last competition. One could imagine a very busy surface science mission of an hour or two while it composition-zapped nearby rocks.

It seems like Venus could win the second, third, or fourth -next New Frontiers mission competition (after Dragonfly or CAESAR), and/or the next Discovery mission competition (after the two asteroid missions fly). Nothing is guaranteed, but the competition would seem to be getting thinner every time Venus loses.

From other readings on LIBS/Raman spectroscopy on Venus' surface, there are challenges to both the transmission of the pulses and interpreting the resulting spectra under the very dense atmosphere. I don't think that there were any questions about its survival to arrive on the surface (and it wouldn't operated except on the surface).

An atmospheric probe (VICI - Discovery) and an orbiting radar/thermal spectral mapping orbiter (VOX - New Frontiers; VERITAS - Discovery) were judged at Category 1 (fully selectable by meeting all scientific and programmatic requirements) in the last Discovery and New Frontiers competitions. (Despite being Cat 1, VOX was not selected as a finalist, which was noted by the Venus community.) I would expect that both will be re-proposed for the next Discovery selection which will begin next year.

Between them, VICI and VOX/VERITAS would meet the high priority scientific goals laid out by the last Decadal Survey for Venus. (The VOX team apparently successfully argued that the surface study goals could be met by an orbiter, replacing the previous assumption that a lander was required.)

Interestingly, the time period for selecting the M5 mission (for which EnVision is a competitor) and the next Discovery mission will be similar. I hope that the two agencies don't select a Venus orbiter in the hopes that the other will.
vjkane

Venus Landed Platform Working Group

NASA has convened a Venus Landed Platform Working Group to assess high priority science investigations that are needed on the surface of Venus. Topic areas include Venus surface geology and geochemistry, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, interior processes, and surface-atmosphere interactions. This includes investigations that may be enabled by new technology approaches, such as extended duration landers via active cooling or high temperature electronics, or using surface mobility. Individuals who would like to suggest important science investigations should please send a short description of the science question being addressed, the measurements required to answer the science question, and key technical requirements such as measurement duration or mobility requirements. Please send this input to the following individuals:

Martha Gilmore, mgilmore@wesleyan.edu
Natasha Johnson, natasha.m. johnson@nasa.gov
Walter Kiefer, kiefer@lpi.usra.edu
Jonathan Sauder, jonathan.sauder@jpl.nasa.gov

The Working Group’s first meeting begins on June 19.
JRehling
This has been online for months now, and I'm just taking a look.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11214-018-0528-z

Very exciting plans… but of all the proposed missions and architectures, not many are on a solid path towards implementation. The Indian orbiter seems likely. Otherwise, we have Venus as being no better than second in line for a New Frontiers mission and the Envision orbiter (which would be a grand all-purposes Venus orbiter) one of three candidates for a future ESA mission.
vjkane
QUOTE (JRehling @ Feb 12 2019, 11:33 AM) *
This has been online for months now, and I'm just taking a look.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11214-018-0528-z

Very exciting plans… but of all the proposed missions and architectures, not many are on a solid path towards implementation. The Indian orbiter seems likely. Otherwise, we have Venus as being no better than second in line for a New Frontiers mission and the Envision orbiter (which would be a grand all-purposes Venus orbiter) one of three candidates for a future ESA mission.

The Indian orbiter will carry a number of instruments, but it appears to have some severe limitations on payload mass and data rates.

The proposed ESA EnVision radar and infrared mapping mission wouldn't launch until the early 2030s if selected. It is facing severe cost and mass limitations. NASA is investigating whether it could provide the major radar mapping instrument.

The Venera-D joint Russian (lead) & US lander and orbiter could fly in the mid-2020s, but Russia is strapped for cash.

That leaves the two Discovery missions to be selected (as I remember) in 2021 for flight in the mid and late 2020s as the only other opportunity.
JRehling
It's interesting to me that EnVision and VOX both propose the same instrument to probe emissivity in the IR, as does the Discovery proposal VERITAS. I think that Venus Express' PFS instrument would have returned some of the same value, except that it failed and returned no data at all (the Wikipedia page erroneously reports that it did, probably a hasty editor converting original plans into the past tense after the mission ended). In a nutshell, this is similar, for Venus, to what VIMS on Cassini accomplished at Titan, making use of haze-penetrating bands to observe the surface. It would be great to have an orbiter in a low circular orbit provide this or a resolution of radar superior to that of Magellan or, as both EnVision and VOX propose, both.

It seems not impossible that VOX or another Venus mission could be the second or third next New Frontiers mission, which looks like the 2030s, as would be EnVision.

The Discovery missions have seemingly chosen every conceivable non-Venus mission that anyone can propose with Venus almost inevitably getting to the front of the queue eventually. Proposals for the next Discovery missions are due at the end of this month. If VERITAS were chosen, that could likely knock EnVision and VOX down in value, and make VICI a candidate for a future New Frontiers mission in the 2030s.
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